45 posts categorized "Apps"

April 15, 2014

Mobile Apps: The Lifeblood of the ‘Always On’ Employee

Depositphotos_38300039_xs

Back in January, Frost & Sullivan published their analysis of the state of mobile enterprise in 2013. The results bore great news for mobile marketing managers, forward-thinking businesses and, most of all, developers of mobile applications. 

The data showed that 48% of decision makers reported their companies used between one and ten mobile apps for employees. Compare that to ten years ago when hardly any workers even had company phones and you start to get a perspective on the exhilarating pace of change in the workplace.

In the year 2014 – or 7AS (After Smartphone) – nearly every white collar job is geographically flexible, and companies expect their staff to be constantly ‘on’. Likewise, most employees prefer to be kept in the loop, and those that are constantly incommunicado are considered a hindrance to getting things done.

For this geo-flexible omni-availability to work, a range of mobile apps are absolutely essential. Mobile workers are, by definition, constantly on the move, which is why mobile devices are chipping away at tasks once reserved for desktop and laptops. From the economic perspective, app-centric devices increase in value as the number or useful apps installed rises. The smarter the phone, the more productive the person holding that phone becomes. 

It’s not just fancy new apps that make mobile workers more efficient. SMS messaging is playing a huge role in the interaction between company and staff. After all, it’s far easier to respond from any location with a text.

The growth of mobility in business has only been possible since the technology has grown more sophisticated. Today, there are three main app functions helping companies work smarter:

  • Notification
  • Input and response
  • Instant action

With mobile, these attributes are more streamlined, more efficient, less glitch and just… well, better than their desktop counterparts. Businesses, employees, customers, mobile marketing managers – they all want to get stuff done more quickly and easily. If they can have an enjoyable experience at the same time, all the better. 

Eliminating steps from both sides – customer and business – is the key to succeeding. Well-designed apps achieve this step-elimination So do workers who can do their job whether they’re at home, in the office or on a plane. The message of an increasingly app-centric workforce is clear. If you’re looking at ways to pare down your operation, trim the fat and boost ROIs: go mobile.

 

 

April 11, 2014

Client Retention Through Text Marketing

Mobile marketing strategies that include SMS messaging are a great way for spas, hair salons, doctors' offices and other enterprises that rely on a steady stream of appointments to retain clients between visits. As many professionals who have embraced the practice can already tell you, despite the fact that SMS text messaging can be fully automated, the truth is that patients, guests, and clients will still walk away with the feeling that you personally took the time to reach out to them. Therefore, automated texts are an effortless way to generate great feelings of customer loyalty (and to help keep that feeling alive).

Boosting Appointments

One of the most obvious types of automated text messages to send to clients in order to keep them thinking about your brand outside of time spent in store or office is the reminder or appointment confirmation text. The added bonus is that this thoughtful correspondence will also lead to fewer missed appointments. Twelve weeks, for instance, is an awfully long time for a loyal customer not to visit her hair salon; therefore, an automated text reminder (perhaps with a special promotion attached to it) sent to someone you haven't seen for a few weeks could be just exactly the nudge such a client needs. Such a moment is also the perfect opportunity to offer your guest the option of texting or emailing an appointment request, further boosting the efficiency of how your company runs and potentially filling up your calendar with profitable business. 

Other Occasions for SMS Texting

Additional reasons and occasions to send out promotional texts are all around, if you just pay attention. SMS messaging can be used for special holiday promotions (Mother's Day, Valentines Day, etc.) In addition, they can be used to remind customers how much they love your business, while also extracting key information from them through customer surveys that give you insight into ways to improve service (and also give you some buzz-generating rave reviews to re-post on Facebook – with customer permission, of course!)

You don't need a holiday in order to celebrate a special event. If your staff members have created their own walking team, for instance, for an upcoming fundraiser, then automated text messages to your customer base are the perfect way to solicit donations and put your small business in a really positive light among members of the local community. You can also keep things light by engaging customers with fun survey questions.

A Few “Don't”s

With all of that said, what you want to avoid doing is overwhelming clients by sending automated texts to the same individuals too often (i.e., more than twice a month at the very most). Also, be certain that those receiving the texts have opted in; never spam, hack, or buy phone numbers. All you'll get in return is a some terrible publicity and potential legal ramifications.

Also, keep messages short. Remember: these are text messages, not the great American novel. Last but not least, do respond to direct questions that your texts generate from those clients receiving the message. After all, hearing back from clients is great because it means they're engaged; you've reached them! Don't go to all of that trouble just to turn right around now and ignore them.

Use SMS texting to engage with and retain customers in an appropriate way that creates value for your clients.

April 10, 2014

What do Consumers think of SMS Marketing?

Depositphotos_11508133_xs
 

Mobile marketing tactics like SMS messaging and smartphone-optimized websites are a relatively new phenomenon. Mobile marketing campaigns are revolutionizing the way in which commerce reaches out to consumers. And yet so many companies still don’t have a mobile marketing strategy in place.

There are a number of reasons for corporate hesitance to move with the times. A common canard is that consumers don’t want to receive text messages. All evidence says this simply isn’t the case.

A 2012 study conducted by the UK Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that a third of Americans said they would rather receive offers such as mobile marketing coupons in a text. Emails were favored by 21%, with mobile apps – somewhat surprisingly – preferred by just 11% of people. It’s not just the US public that’s becoming increasingly attracted to SMS messaging. In France, 60% of consumers prefer to receive offers via text, according to the research. 

Many of the misconceptions about mobile marketing campaigns are informed by the email marketing era of the 90s and 00s, when spam was clogging up inboxes all over the world. Some CEOs (wrongly) believe that consumers are sick of receiving offers and ads from companies.

But mobile marketing works in a completely different way. It’s bound by federal legislation which obliges businesses to ask customers for explicit, opt-in permission before sending text messages. Companies are also required to clearly explain the opt-out process, and make sure it can be completed in a hassle-free way. So if you’re worried about irritating your customers with unwanted messages, don’t be.

As we’ve seen, concerns about whether consumers will sign up to receive texts are unwarranted. If the DMA figures are correct, more than half of your customers would be interested in opting in to receive mobile marketing coupons and other info via SMS messaging. The beauty of mobile marketing tactics like this is they’re relatively cheap to implement. You can just dip your toe in and see if you like the results before committing more of your budget.

Consumer attitudes to SMS messaging are shifting. As smartphone adoption continues to rise, more and more people are conducting all their online activity through mobile devices. Devising mobile marketing tactics is no longer a luxury for the tech-savvy entrepreneur – it’s an absolute essential for businesses of every kind.

 

 

 

April 09, 2014

5 Apps for Helicopter Parents

Depositphotos_4823056_xs

Remember the old days? When kids were free to run wild without their every move being micromanaged by anxious parents? Growing up in the 80s, the best a worried mother could hope for was a call from a public telephone – if the mood struck her child.

Those days are gone. Between SMS messaging, smartphones and GPS, app developers have all the tools they need to help anxious parents keep tabs on their offspring. Kids, you might want to stop reading now. Grownups, check out our top 5 apps for making sure little Johnny is as safe as houses – and your house is safe from little Johnny!

iCam

Featured on Today, CNN and Good Morning America, iCam provides you with live feeds from any room in your house, direct to your mobile device. Each room must contain a running computer with webcams and the app installed. Probably unwise to use it instead of a babysitter, but it’s ideal for people on vacation who can’t shake that feeling that the house is burning down being broken into.

Kitestring

The ultimate in overprotective app, Kitestring can be programmed to track your whereabouts and ensure you arrive safely at your intended destination, at the intended time. Just like a worried parent, it checks up on you by requesting a response at a certain time. If you fail to respond, the app alerts your pre-programmed contacts via SMS messaging.

FBI Child ID

Created by the FBI, this app allows parents to store ID information and photographs of their children. The stored information can be quickly access in the event of the child disappearing. Crucially, it only stores info on the iPhone until parents need to send it to the authorities. The app includes shortcuts to 911 and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Find My Kids – Footprints

In the same vein, this app gives parents real time updates on their kids whereabouts. GPS has been applied to everything from vehicle navigation to mobile marketing solutions, but this is a world-beater in terms of providing parental peace of mind. Find out if your child is travelling alone and whether they’ve arrived at a specific destination.

Txt Shield

As kids grow up, concerns about sinister abductions begin to lessen. But parents of newly-driving teens have a whole new set of concerns. Txt Shield is one of a number of apps on the market aimed at preventing accidents caused by distracted driving. The app sends automatic replies to any incoming text messages based on how fast the mobile device is moving. 

April 04, 2014

Apple Patent 'Transparent Texting'

Depositphotos_3083667_xs

This is undoubtedly weird. Created by Japanese mobile firm NTT Docomo as a public service announcement, the aim is to demonstrate the dangers of texting and walking at the same time. While Americans are campaigning for legislation to stamp out texting while driving, it seems Japan is more concerned with the potential problems caused by pedestrians not looking where they’re going.

For those of us who can’t read Japanese script, the text claims that one out of five people who text and walk wind up injuring themselves or others. According to a study conducted at Aichi University of Technology, only 547 out of 1500 people who look at their phones while crossing an intersection would reach the other side without colliding into someone, tripping over, or dropping their phone.

With 7.25 million iPhones sold in Japan during 2011 alone, it’s hardly surprising that the country’s number one smartphone is working on a solution to the problem of ill-timed SMS messaging and web browsing. Last week, Apple filed a patent that aims to provide customers with a live video feed of their surroundings while texting. The objective is to give text addicts a better chance of avoiding street lamps, pedestrians and cars.

The inbuilt camera will be able to continuously capture the immediate environment while texts are being written and communicated. It’s a pretty far-out notion, and says much about the compulsive phone habits of many smartphone users.

There is no indication of when we can expect to see the technology in action; there are already some apps that allow transparent overlays, but they currently require users to copy and paste a text into a relevant application. The live editing function is what’s missing – Apple hopes to change all that.

For SMS marketing purposes, the technology has some exciting implications. With the use of geo-targeting, stores could wait until consumers’ cameras are within range of their outlet before sending a text. Imagine reading a text as you walk down the street, and being able to see the retailer in the background. Creative minds in charge of mobile marketing campaigns will be waiting for this patent to bear fruit with great excitement – and Japanese pedestrians could be a whole lot safer as they walk busy streets. 

SMS Tips: Getting the Most Out of Google Voice

Depositphotos_13438440_xs

Launched in March of 2009, Google Voice is a telecommunications service that provides one phone number, thereby allowing users to keep the same number regardless of phone company changes, job changes or any other life changes. Using Google Voice means your number stays the same, with features including the ability to forward calls to your cell phone, block and screen calls, retrieve voicemails and more. Since Google Voice is a free service, mobile marketing tactics are beginning to focus on it more, marketers are discovering how it may be implemented into assorted mobile marketing solutions and strategies. Let’s take a look:

First Things First

Before discussing Google Voice utilization in a mobile marketing strategy, it’s important to note the service’s limitations. Google Voice cannot send pictures or any other form of multimedia messaging (MMS), and will ignore such messages without alerting the receiver. However, many other viable options are available for sending pictures, such as email, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Sending Free Text Messages

One of the arguably biggest benefits of utilizing Google Voice in a mobile marketing strategyis the ability to send free text messages to your list of leads. Calling leads usually isn’t the most effective strategy, as people aren’t always able or willing to pick up their phones, but can still easily answer a text message. Let’s say you have a few hundred leads you wish to contact to determine if they’re still interested in your business. All you have to do is copy a number, hit ‘text’ in Google Voice, and paste the number along with the message. What’s more, the person’s reply will be sent directly to your Google Voice account, which you can also reply to. It’s as easy as sending email, and more than that, it’s free and is almost guaranteed to be read.

Google Voice Auto-Reply SMS

Want to let customers know about your new number? Google Voice Auto-Reply SMS is an easy way to do this. Another free tool, it automatically lets customers and leads know about your new contact number, allowing you to avoid continuous, confusing calls to your old one.

Sending Free Text Messages to a Range of Devices

Besides the ability to send free text messages, Google Voice provides additional mobile marketing solutions in that you can send those text messages to a wide range of devices. Mobile marketing tactics and campaigns are sometimes limited to a certain type of phone, something Google Voice eliminates entirely. Use it to send text message alerts regarding sales, events, coupons and anything else pertaining to your business to any device that accepts SMS.

“Voice” is Often Preferable to Smartphone Users 

Keypads on smartphones aren’t always easy to use, particularly if the user has large fingers! Many smartphone users prefer to text or search for something using their voices instead of their hands, so it follows that Google Voice would make an attractive part of a mobile marketing campaign for smartphone users. They can easily listen to messages and reply using their voices.

Have you used Google Voice as part of your latest mobile marketing strategy? If not, it might be time to try!

 

 

April 02, 2014

UK Experiencing Mobile Marketing Boom

Depositphotos_23995033_xs

While companies continue to use mobile marketing tactics to promote and expand their businesses in the U.S. and in the U.K., the mobile marketing industry across the pond continues to trail its U.S. counterpart.  It seems everyone in the U.S. has a smartphone attached to their hand, which they use to send texts, make calls, look up information, browse social media and make purchases among many other activities. Smartphones and tablets are even surpassing laptops in popularity, as U.S. citizens are increasingly turning to mobile devices to retrieve necessary information. This frequent use of smartphones does not appear to be mimicked in the U.K. 

Recently O2 Media and the Marketing Institute surveyed 252 marketers in the U.K., finding two-thirds of marketers dedicating portions of their budgets to mobile rather than traditional media. Of these marketers, 14 percent obtained additional money for SMS marketing campaigns, and 7 percent redirected funds used in online / desktop marketing.

Despite these efforts, the idea that “marketing spend hasn’t followed where the eyeballs have gone” remains a concern, notes Fintan Lonergan, O2 Media’s managing director. The company works with clients such as Heineken, Aer Lingus, Ikea and Nissan, helping them connect to consumers.

In 2013, a mere 19 percent of U.K. businesses had dedicated 10 percent or more of their advertising budget to mobile marketing. “This is very low compared to the central role that mobile plays in consumers lives,” Lonergan adds. Only 7 percent of surveyed marketers said they worked for “a mobile-first organization,” with “lack of strategy” considered the biggest challenge Ireland faces in regards to mobile marketing. 

Progress is being made, however. Lonergan cites location-based targeting as a “really encouraging” development in the U.K., with more and more marketers focusing on mobile marketing strategy. In 2013, the most popular mobile marketing tactics were social media, SMS messaging, apps, mobile displays and  mobile-optimized websites.

“There is a lot of media attention on mobile and the growth of mobile and yet very little has been known about what marketers are doing within mobile,” says Lonergan. 

In the UK, Lonergan says mobile marketing has gone on “a hockey stick curve in the last 24 months,” noting a recent eMarketer study that found mobile advertising in the U.K. will likely surpass print advertising in 2014.

“Our marketing industry is lagging behind a bit, and that’s not a criticism, it’s just a fact,” he notes.

So why this “lag”? Perhaps it’s simply a matter of company funds, or maybe there just aren’t as many smartphone users in the U.K. Companies are provided with numerous other options in terms of advertising, such as email and social media, and success in those areas may prompt businesses to look at SMS marketing campaigns as unnecessary. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to see how fast the U.K. catches up with the U.S. regarding this expanding form of advertising!

 

March 28, 2014

Messaging Apps: The Carriers Bite Back

Depositphotos_11508133_xs

A capitalist economy is all about competition. Each company strives to get your dollar before the other guy does. AT&T is trying to do just that. With technology advancing, it is becoming even harder for traditional carriers and SMS texting providers to compete with the advantages offered by free and cheap one-time-buy mobile apps. Mobile phone providers are attempting to fight the loss of their customers with new mobile marketing solutions and a new SMS marketing campaign.

AT&T’s New Benefits

Just last month AT&T advertised that they will allow contracts for LTE roaming in many different areas internationally. They also announced their intention to make international SMS texting free for their customers. Not only will this support text messages globally, but it will also support picture messages and video messaging. On the 28th of February, AT&T started their Mobile Share and Mobile Share Value plans. These plans were created to have the same capability of third party apps, thus diminishing their value and rather increasing the appeal of AT&T. AT&T says that their SMS service will be available in 190 countries, and their MMS in 120 countries. Unfortunately these new mobile marketing solutions do not support tablets or laptops; all messages must be sent from one phone to another phone.

The new mobile marketing campaign also includes the new feature of international calling at a rate of one cent per minute. This feature is allowed in 35 countries. These new mobile marketing solutions really have users’ interests peaked. Previously, phone customers had to pay extra money to send picture and video messages, or even for every individual text. Often users would turn to mobile apps to allow them to text more when their SMS limit had already run out.

T-Mobile’s New Benefits

On March 23, 2014, T-Mobile will have a launch improvements of their own. Their new mobile marketing solution allows some users to double their amount of data for the same price. It also allows mobile customers to have unlimited SMS to 120 countries internationally. Because of the size of T-Mobile’s customer base it can not provide as widespread benefits as AT&T, but it shows that they too are wising up to the staggering appeal of mobile messaging apps. 

The Competition

Back in 2012, researchers found that the collection of messaging apps sent a total of almost 19 billion messages every day. That vast number passed up text sent by traditional SMS carriers by almost 1.5 billion. In the spring of 2013, it was projected that 2014 would be the year that application messages would pass SMS messages at a ratio of more than 2 to 1. There are fewer app users than SMS users, but the affordability of free in-app messaging is of course enormously appealing.

WhatsApp, Kik, Viber, WeChat and MessageMe, are taking the mobile market by storm, and AT&T would like to do something about it. Keep your eyes open for more benefits from traditional mobile carriers. The phone companies are fighting back, and you might just get a great deal because of it. 

March 27, 2014

New App Aims to Combat Distracted Driving

Depositphotos_25694125_xs

Texting while driving is a special kind of faux pas, a social no-no usually committed when the perpetrator thinks they are all alone. Like singing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ at the top of your voice, or picking your nose at a red light, it’s amazing how far people will go when sealed inside a metallic cocoon.

Of course, people can see you, and they will judge you. For a transgression as serious as ‘twitting’ (Texting While in Traffic), some people even go as far as publicly shaming the guilty.

It’s hard to feel much sympathy when you look at the distracted driving statistics. According to data from the DMV, distracted drivers are the leading cause of car accidents, with 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involving some form of distraction. Anyone who thinks they have time to send a quick response can think again – most distractions occur within three seconds before the accident.

The most at risk group is teenagers, and app developers have responded with all sorts of clever ways to prevent or minimize the effects of distracted driving. The latest to hit the market is Txt Shield, launched this month by two Florida brothers, and aimed squarely at worried parents.

The app puts control in the hands of parents by sending automatic replies to incoming text messages based on how fast the device is moving. It’s available for $1.99 as a Lite Version, which activates as soon as the device is moving above 10mph, but cannot be disabled (if, for example, the teen is travelling as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle). For more flexibility – and a text alert to other pre-set numbers should the app be uninstalled – users must opt for the Gold Version. Still, at $3.99, it’s surely worth it for peace of mind. But how does it compare to similar products on the market? Let’s take a look at the top three distracted driving apps out there…

  • At $29.99, Android’s Textecution isn’t cheap. It works in a similar fashion to Txt Shield, preventing the ability to text if a phone is travelling faster than 10mph. Passengers can override the app – though any such requests must be authorized by an administrator, which begs the question: what if the administrator is driving?
  • Compatible with most smartphones, tXtBlocker provides a neat customizable option allowing users to set certain routes and times – like the daily commute – when phone calls and texts aren’t accepted. Again, it’s not cheap, costing $6.99 per user per month.
  • AT&T’s DriveMode is a winner for the company’s brand image, sending auto-replies for no more than the cost of an ordinary text message. It certainly suggests a caring, safety-first attitude, although in this case, the function doesn’t kick in until the device is moving faster than 25mph, which may not be quite enough peace of mind for some parents.

The slew of distracted driving apps on the market point to a real need for safety awareness among businesses. If you are currently devising a mobile marketing strategy, it’s worth considering the inclusion of an opt-out that only kicks in at certain times. If you can avoid sending a text message while someone is driving to work, it’s another way of keeping customers onside. 

March 25, 2014

Synergizing SMS and Social Media

Depositphotos_8304016_xs

A recent campaign conducted by Southwest Airlines is a perfect demonstration of mobile marketing meshing with web, social media and real-world engagement. It was devastatingly simple: a cocktail napkin - handed out to thousands of flyers every day - had a shortcode emblazoned across it, encouraging travellers to text their email address in order to sign up for news updates.

It was a great example of marrying multiple user experiences to maximize engagement. By integrating two channels like this, you can grow your business exponentially, as each channel feeds off the other.

This sort of cross-channel synergy works especially well with SMS and social media, both fundamental parts of any right-thinking marketing plan. They work so well in tandem because they are both frequently used by a large portion of the population. SMS messaging has a particularly long reach, with open rates exceeding 98% (the vast majority of those being read within minutes of receipt).

Social media is growing almost as fast, and is no longer the sole preserve of the young. If you develop innovative ways of synergizing your SMS messaging and social media campaigns, you’ll not only reap the rewards, you’ll be able to track which channel is generating the most leads and/or revenue. Here are a few good practices that will help you link up your users across the two channels:

Contests

Contests are a tried and tested method of engaging an audience. People love to get involved and feel like they are part of a process. Come up with an idea for a contest. Run it on Facebook. Promote it via text message to mobile subscribers. It will encourage users who previously engaged purely through mobile to interact with your Facebook page, thus getting a richer experience from your brand. 

Coupons

When you issue coupons to your SMS subscribers, be sure to include a like-gated page URL so they can access the coupons directly from the message. The less they have to do, the more likely they are to take part in the promotion.

Offer Incentives

You may have high hopes of your message going viral – but it doesn’t happen for nothing. Offer an irrefutably attractive deal to encourage viewers to share the message on social media. If you offer no value, nobody will share your message.

Update Subscribers

If you have a social media update of any kind, send it to your mobile subscribers. Tease them by texting a portion of the post or video, inviting them to visit your Facebook page to see the rest.

Getting the most out of mobile marketing means devising a synergistic, cross-channel experience. The more types of audience you can get to, the bigger your overall audience will be.